You may now open up the verbal assault lines and begin labeling me with any of the following terms as you see fit: flip-flopper, Ugly American, isolationist, shrill, defeatist or pessimist. (Declinist?) I will consider accepting other derogatory labels, but please clear them through my agent's office before going to press.
Why am I now all of these truly awful things? Because last night, as I walked around the yard with my dog, watching the clouds roll overhead, I came to the realization that my position on the Iraq war has changed and, quite frankly, I don't give a tinker's damn what anyone else thinks about it. I am now firmly convinced that my previous conciliatory position was wrong, and that I must join the ranks of the people (many of whom are being called "shrill") saying that we need to get entirely out of Iraq, and we need to do it NOW.
In the past, my position on this has been one of despondent resignation. I was (and remain) tremendously angry at George W. Bush for sending our troops into this private war of folly who's only justifications turned out to be completely false. But, I reasoned, no matter how wrong we were to go in, the fact was that we were there now and we had to muddle through as best we could to sort things out and set them to rights as much as possible. I suppose it came from a sense of personal and national responsibility... we broke Iraq, and it was going to be up to us to fix it. I even took my place with the bobbleheads saying that we needed to correct Rumsfeld's disastrous planning errors by sending tens of thousands of additional troops into the country to "get the job done right."
No more. I believe the change was brought on partly by watching the endless flow of MSM news out of the country, and by the manic chanting of the right wing war bloggers that we need to go in and kill more and more Iraqis... but mostly it came from reading the words of the bloggers inside of Iraq themselves. (Links to many of them will be found in Running Scared's blogroll.)
Yes, the country is broken, and clearly we were the ones who broke it. Saddam was an awful man - a cruel dictator who oppressed and abused his own people - but let's face the facts... the country wasn't burning down and exploding before we arrived. It was previously dysfunctional. Now it is broken. The nation's infrastructure, already in poor shape when we arrived, is really in the crapper now. As a wise man once said, it will ever be easier to destroy than to create or even repair. Days and weeks of work to establish electrical power to one neighborhood or get a single oil refinery back on line can be undone in a few minutes of mortar fire, and these insurgents don't look as if they'll be running out of rockets and mortars any time soon.
But, you may ask, what of our responsibility to the Iraqi people? Well, I'll tell you... it's the people themselves that drive me to this position. First of all, we keep talking and cheering and pinning our hopes on these democratic elections coming up in January. The more I read, the more convinced I become that the Iraqis feel no vested interest in these elections and most of them wouldn't know what to do with a true democracy if you hit them over the heads with it.
And who is it exactly that we are fighting? The administration's continued insistence that our "enemies" are a small band of foreign terrorists working with remnants of Saddam's Royal Guard is a politically motivated fantasy. There is no great level of command and control among these "insurgents" because we're battling at least four different groups of people who have very different goals little in common besides a shared hatred of our forces.
There are certainly a small number of foreign terrorists. How many were found among the dead and captured in Fallujah? The last number I heard put it at under 5%. There are also some locals who the Iraqis are calling the "Vandals." They are wildcards who are just trying to steal and destroy whatever they can... probably the Iraq equivalent of the anarchists we have in America. Then there are the two largest groups. Yes, some of them are former members of the Ba'athist party and Saddam's army trying to regain control. Others, whether or not you choose to admit it, are simply Iraqis who view our invasion as a foreign army coming and invading their country and occupying their lands. Whatever labels we
choose to put on these people do not matter. In their
minds, which is the only place that counts, they see themselves as patriots defending their homeland against the foreign aggressors. And with every mosque that we bomb, with every home or small shop that burns down, with every rocket that lands in someone's garden, we create more of them.
If there's one thing that history should have taught us, it's that there is no more dangerous group of people in the world than a group of patriots fighting on their home turf. I think we proved that pretty well in 1776. They aren't going to go away any time soon. As one pundit far wiser than me recently put it, the resistance doesn't need to beat us in order to win. They only need to hang on long enough and not lose
. They seem to be doing a damned fine job of that thus far.
So with that, I say the hell with it. We are, as my Dad use to say, "shovelling shit against the tide." It was never our business to "save" the Iraqis from Saddam, and whatever threat to our nation from Iraq, as a national power, may or may not have existed is long since gone. There may still be a threat from terrorists there, but we'll never eliminate that and a fair case can be made to say that we are the midwives who oversaw the birth of the terrorist threat from Iraq as it exists today.
What is our death toll at the moment... 1,300? Who can even keep track these days? Well, that's 1,300 too many for this folly. The first one was too many. When we leave, be it next week, next month, next year, or ten years from now, that country is going to break out in a civil war between its three conflicting inner societies. This ugly American is willing to get the hell out and let them get on with it. Our troops are needed back home, and in Afghanistan to finally hunt down and kill that bastard bin Laden. It's high time we faced up to this reality and, as Nixon was accused of doing in Vietnam, "declare victory and go home." So yes... I will take the label of the cruel, unfeeling, isolationist American. The hell with Iraq. It's time for us to leave.
Crossposted at The Left Right Debate